Mantle convection modeling with viscoelastic/brittle lithosphere:

Louis Moresi*, Frédéric Dufour, Hans Bernd Mühlhaus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


The earth's tectonic plates are strong, viscoelastic shells which make up the outermost part of a thermally convecting, predominantly viscous layer. Brittle failure of the lithosphere occurs when stresses are high. In order to build a realistic simulation of the planet's evolution, the complete viscoelastic/brittle convection system needs to be considered. A particle-in-cell finite element method is demonstrated which can simulate very large deformation viscoelasticity with a strain-dependent yield stress. This is applied to a plate-deformation problem. Numerical accuracy is demonstrated relative to analytic benchmarks, and the characteristics of the method are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2335-2356
Number of pages22
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


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